We’ve learned this week that offense can be deadly. And, if you’ve been honest, you’ve realized that you are probably already infected, have been infected, or will have an opportunity to be infected in the near future. Jesus said it is impossible that no offenses would come. Darn it.
The question, then, is “what do I DO about it?” Once you recognize the symptoms, you’ll feel offense coming on the way you recognize the early warning signs of a cold or the flu. Can you “nip it in the bud”? Absolutely. Even if you’ve allowed an offense to take root in your life, and its ugly little tendrils have wound their way through your heart and mind, it’s never too late to clear it out!
The cure is simple. But your flesh won’t like it. It stings like iodine on a cut and pinches like a good ol’ fashioned shot of penicillin. What is it? FORGIVE.
That’s right, forgive the offender so YOU can go free.
People are horribly confused about forgiveness. To forgive does not mean you condone or approve of the offensive deed; it means you release the person, group, political party, company, or family pet to the proper authorities. (Ever been offended by the family dog? Like when you come home and find garbage strewn from one side of the house to the other?)
If you made a citizen’s arrest, you wouldn’t take that criminal home with you and set them up in the guest room, right? So why, when we are offended, do we take the offender “home” in our hearts and minds and keep them there?
As long as we harbor the offender, we are keeping them from being prosecuted to the full extent of the law — in other words, we hinder them from changing. That is particularly damaging when we’re offended by our own family members! YOU could be preventing that person from changing by refusing to let go!
Like taking antibiotics, or any other medical treatment, there is no instant “feel better” for offense. You forgive as an act of your will and stay in that place of forgiveness by faith. You may have to repeat the course of treatment several times until that thing is washed out of your heart and mind for good. (“I’m gonna wash that __________ right outta my hair…”)
After Jesus told the disciples they were expected to forgive the same individual for committing the same transgression as much as 490 times a day, their next response was, “Lord, increase our faith!” It’s not easy to forgive. But it’s essential for your health and peace of mind. In fact, it’s essential for YOUR life.
“And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.
But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.”
Once you forgive, your feelings may not change right away. Hold fast to your confession of forgiveness. Refuse to go backwards into avoidance, quarreling, and complaining once you have chosen to forgive. The feelings may subside if you have already been avoiding the person or situation and you don’t see them often, but when you do encounter them, be prepared to refresh your faith on forgiveness! Those old feelings, like ruts in a road, will attempt to pull you back into your old way of thinking. Speak the word, remind yourself that you, from your own free will, have released them and there are no “hard feelings.”
When in the company of friends you may find yourself wanting to relive those old wounds when the offender’s name is mentioned. It’s a temptation common to man to rehearse past hurts and offenses. It’s like old soldiers sitting around comparing battle scars. All that does is stir up all those old soul issues. Forgive AND forget, God does. And since you were created in His image, you can, too!
All right, have you located your offenders? Offenses? Pinch your nose, squeeze your eyes shut as tight as you can, try Lamaze breathing… whatever you need to do to deal with your flesh, and say the following from your heart:
“Father God, as an act of my free will, I choose to forgive _________ for any offense, intended or negligent. I release them from any obligation to me in this matter and turn them over to You. I am free from any offense, unforgiveness, strife, or bitterness with ____________ from now on. From this point forward I refuse to recall, rehearse, or remember anything to do with this incident. Thank You for setting me free from offense. In the name of Jesus, amen.”
It’s that simple. Ask the Lord to show you if there is anything you need to do to mend relationships or repair breaches, or if there is anyone you need to ask to forgive you. Make examining yourself for symptoms of offense a regular part of your prayer life. Stay sensitive to the Holy Spirit on these issues. You may be surprised at the number of offended little foxes that are spoiling your vine!
Tomorrow we’ll look for those pesky little “no-see-ums.” Offenses that sneak up on us when we aren’t paying attention. If you aren’t already a subscriber or a follower, sign up so you don’t miss a post. Get the cure, so you can get over it!
If you want to get this information all in one place at one time, it’s in my book, The Judas Trap, available at Amazon.com. I’m giving away a free copy this week. (It’s excellent preparation for the holidays… all that time with in-laws and family members provides plenty of opportunities to get offended.)
If you’d like to have your name included in the random drawing, leave me a comment and your e-mail address. (Click “comments” below. A window will pop up with a place to enter comments at the bottom.). Leave spaces between your name and the @ symbol, or type out the word “at” to avoid being picked up by those web spider things that steal e-mail addresses and add them to junk mail lists. Or something like that.
Photo Credits: JOPHIELsmiles, Sam Catchesides, chateekat_bucket, www.dexterhumphrey.com